Adding Tools to my Creative Toolboxfeatured


It’s been a few months since I’ve posted—have you given up on me? Despite my radio silence here I’ve actually been on quite a creative bender lately and I love it!

If you follow me on instagram (@thepicadillyproject) you’ve seen some of the fruits of all this creativity. It started with a drawing challenge with Lisa Congdon through creativebug and has spiraled into pretty dedicated creative pursuits of one kind or another on a daily basis—pen and ink drawings, a little bit of painting and watercolor exploration, hand lettering projects and my latest love, drawings of food and beverages (my choice of subject for #the100dayproject Instagram challenge). In addition to  all these little creative bursts for Instagram, I’ve also been doing a lot more freelance graphic design including a regular design gig working on-site two days a week. It’s been interesting and so satisfyingly fun to switch back and forth from designing on my mac for a freelance project to opening a sketchbook and drawing on a daily basis.

My biggest creative challenge is the constant inspiration and desire to try different things. I have no desire to declare or marry myself to any one particular style or medium despite the fact that I may be more talented in one arena than the other. Maybe this means I will never develop to my fullest potential and be exceptional in any one particular medium but I’m OK with that for now. I’m enjoying this exploration and process so much—I let it lay dormant for far too long. I feel like all these explorations are adding more tools to my creative toolbox.

An interest that I’ve had for a long time is printing—screen printing in particular, but also letterpress. I’m so excited and thrilled that I’m finally making that a priority. On Saturday I took a screen printing class through Ocelot Print Shop in Detroit and it couldn’t have been a better introduction to the art of screen printing. The teachers Kinga and Bayard did such an excellent job breaking down the process and giving us a hands on learning experience. I loved every part of the process (well, maybe not the clean up but even the act of clearing the emulsion from the screen at the end of the day turned out to be a revelation of sorts). I am thrilled with the results of my first screen print “Just Keep Swimming.”

For the class with Ocelot I had the option of using some of their art to print or coming up with my own and I chose to create my own. As I looked back over my work from the past few months I saw many possibilities that could be translated into a screen printing project. I zeroed in pretty quickly on a fish drawing I did back in January for the Creativebug/Lisa Congdon challenge—it was one of my favorite subjects to draw during that challenge. I redrew a few of the fish with micron pens and also drew the lettering and then took photos using my iphone, emailed them to my laptop so I could digitize the artwork in Adobe Illustrator. After everything was converted to vectorized art, I played around with layout and came up with the design you see here. When setting up the design I created two layers one for each color and these became the separations for the two screens (colors) I made.

Just Keep Swimming Screen Print Detail Image

We printed out the two layers on transparencies in the shop and they taught us prepare our own screens with emulsion and burn the artwork onto the screens. It’s so fun to watch the design expose itself during the process and even more fun to start printing! It was such a thrill to pull that ink across the screen and lift the screen up to see the artwork printed on paper.

One thing I had to adjust to was color. In graphic design I specify a Pantone color and the printer matches it. The process of mixing colors can be a little tedious and unpredictable. Kinga was very patient as I tried to get the perfect orange. Realizing I was holding up the process for someone else I compromised on a color that wasn’t quite right in my mind but ended up being just perfect. In the end I think it works better than the darker orange I thought I was going for ever would.

I printed 25 of these babies and I am making them available for purchase in my Etsy shop. So if you love the print as much as I do and want to support me making more prints head on over there and get one while you can! If live in the metro Detroit area and want to learn how to screen print, check out Ocelot Print Shop—I couldn’t recommend them more!

I can not wait to start designing my next screen print and get back into the shop to print. So stayed tuned for that! In the meantime, check back here later in the week because on Thursday I head to Signal Return in Detroit for my first experience in letter press printing!

Just Keep Swimming Fish Screen Print Detail Shot






About the author

Jennifer Stefanek

Hello, I'm Jen. I am a forty-something closeted artist and designer. This blog is a place for me to chronicle creative projects big and small in an effort to re-ignite and rediscover my creative self. I am The Picadilly Project.

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